MANCHESTER, N.H. — Colin Hemingway’s name appears six times in the Dartmouth-UNH line score. If you’re a UNH fan, you know that’s a good thing.
The Wildcats had hot sticks Thursday night as they cruised past Nick Boucher and the Big Green, 6-3, to claim Granite State bragging rights before a record crowd of 10,053 at brand-new Verizon Wireless Arena.
Hemingway had a hand in all six Wildcat goals, scoring two to go along with four assists as he put together the best game of his career in front of the largely UNH-partisan crowd.
The Wildcats’ win was their eighth in nine games as they improved to 11-3-2 overall (5-2-2 Hockey East).
“Anytime you get six points and a ‘W,’ you’re definitely going to be happy,” Hemingway said after the game. “I worked for each and every one of those points. I was skating hard. I guess it was just one of those nights.”
Hemingway’s previous single-game career high was four points, coming against Providence less than a month ago.
Against Dartmouth (4-4-1, 3-2-1 ECAC), Hemingway scored the Wildcats’ most important goal of the night, a wrister through traffic from the right circle that knotted the game at two late in the first period after the Big Green had rallied for a couple of quick goals moments earlier.
After the intermission, Hemingway was on hand as the Wildcats broke free for four goals in the second stanza, making it look easy at times against a struggling Boucher.
“When you’re playing with great players, great things can happen,” Hemingway said. “A big night like this is a credit to those guys, like Josh Prudden and Darren Haydar.”
In the Big Green net, “Big Game Bouche” became “Benched Bouche.”
Boucher’s recurring problems are of a curious nature because of his strong reputation in the ECAC and in college hockey in general. He was expected to have a good season after winning big games for Dartmouth in its run to the ECAC semifinals last March.
But he has not been himself since Day One. Even in Dartmouth’s 4-1-1 start, many among the Big Green felt that Boucher was not up to his absolute best and quietly waited for him to display the All-Star form that they had come to expect.
In the past few weeks, Boucher’s problems have been exposed as the Big Green has fallen on hard times, dropping its third game in a row in Thursday night’s loss.
Boucher allowed six goals on 27 UNH shots.
“I think, at times, we have to give [Boucher] some support out there too,” said Gaudet, who announced after the game that sophomore Darren Gastrock will start between the pipes in Saturday night’s game against Merrimack. “Nick is a heck of a good goaltender. He’s had a great career. It’s a team game and I think we need to play better defensively at times.”
Playing in front of the largest crowd ever to witness an indoor collegiate sporting event in state history — the old record was 7,272 at a UNH men’s basketball game — Josh Prudden opened the scoring at the 10:20 mark when he collected a blocked shot and poked it past Boucher’s left glove. Prudden had a big game of his own, finishing with two goals.
The Big Green claimed a brief lead after Prudden’s goal, as Mike Murray collected a pass from Mike Maturo with his back turned to the net and spun around before beating Matt Carney (34 saves) with his second goal of the year.
Maturo, a Manchester native, scored off a faceoff on a power play less than two minutes later to complete a two-point night.
“When I looked at the schedule and saw we were playing here, it put a smile on my face,” said Maturo, who received a 10-minute misconduct late in the second period, a rarity for him. “It would have been sweeter if we had won.”
After that, it was all Hemingway and all UNH.
Hemingway’s goal knotted the score at two heading into the intermission, and then the Wildcats victimized Boucher in the second 20.
They lit the lamp twice in the opening 1:38 of the middle frame, as freshman Sean Collins and Hemingway scored. Collins’ goal was his 13th.
The Big Green crept to within one once again when Lee Stempniak scored at the 2:20 mark, but UNH added a couple more in the next 10 minutes to claim a commanding 6-3 advantage.
In addition to Hemingway and Prudden, scoring leader Darren Haydar and junior Lanny Gare also had multiple-point nights for the Wildcats. Haydar had a goal and an assist, while Gare tallied a couple of helpers for UNH, which is unbeaten in 11 of its last 13 games.
“I think the team is playing well,” Wildcats coach Dick Umile said. “We didn’t have a great weekend last weekend against Clarkson and St. Lawrence, but I thought we beat a good team tonight. We’re very pleased with the win, heading into exams.”
Although the game took on a more defensive tone after Boucher’s exit, Yacey played well in his collegiate debut. An athletic netminder, Yacey (21 saves) made a number of nice saves in his 25:29, including a sparkling glove stop on a Steve Saviano blast from the circle late in the game.
On the other end, Tim Collins made his career debut in the UNH net, playing the last 2:48 and stopping the one shot he faced.
The Wildcats now have two weeks off for exams and will next play Colorado College at the Badger Classic on Thursday, Dec. 27.
Dartmouth, meantime, looks to get back into the win column when it hosts Merrimack Saturday night at Thompson Arena. That will be the team’s last home game until Jan. 4.